In 2014, if your business does not have a Facebook page, you are already behind in an online marketing space that is only getting more competitive. Facebook launched ‘Facebook Pages’ in 2007 and immediately accrued 100, 000 businesses, before opening the function up to the public in 2009. By November 2013, there were 25 million small business pages. With Facebook paving the way for social media platforms to dominate the online media sphere, PR gurus and marketers embraced this new communication tool and jumped on the opportunity to grow their product/brand reach for free.
Yet organic reach in 2014 is no longer as easy, or even has the same meaning as it did 3-4 years ago. The purpose of fan acquisition- that is, getting ‘likes’ on your Facebook page was to drive awareness of your business and connect with consumers online. Through free distribution of content, marketers were able to create a two-way dialogue with consumers, allowing businesses to build rapport and a sense of authenticity with their audience.
But Facebook now wants us to rethink fan acquisition, asking businesses to focus on driving paid advertising if they want to improve their visibility on Facebook. In ‘Generating business results on Facebook’, the company listed the following benefits of fan acquisition on Facebook:
Facebook is being pretty clear that free distribution of content is no longer the most effective way to increase visibility on your consumer’s news feeds- if you want online reach, you need to be prepared to hand over cold hard cash from your marketing budget. There is now increased competition for a limited space as more businesses clock on that Facebook is a great platform for online reach, where 'content that is eligible to be shown in news feed is increasing at a faster rate than people's ability to consume it.' (- AdAge)
In other words:
"We're getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you're a business is to pay for it"(- spokesperson for Facebook)
It is no surprise that businesses are unhappy about this turn of events, with many having dedicated much of their time and energy cultivating their fan base on Facebook. However like all businesses, Facebook is ruled by supply and demand, and at the end of the day Facebook must continually streamline their algorithms to remain a competitive platform against major rivals Twitter and Google+.